Kilgore College just faced Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College in the NJCAA national men’s basketball tournament. Could a rematch be coming – with even bigger stakes – in football?
The NJCAA, the governing body of junior college athletics in the U.S., announced on Friday that War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark., will be the site for the NJCAA football national championship for the next four seasons, beginning next month for the current season, a national title game set for Saturday, June 5.
War Memorial will also be the site of the game to culminate the 2021, 2022 and 2023 seasons.
COVID-19 postponed the fall 2020 season for most of the junior colleges in the nation (Mississippi elected to play their season), and junior college programs, including Kilgore College, are currently playing that season.
KC is ranked second in the nation and has two games left: next Saturday, May 8, at home against Cisco, and Saturday, May 15, at Trinity Valley Community College in Athens. Hutchinson is ranked number one in the country, and also has two games left in the Kansas conference, the next two Sundays.
This year’s championship will be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network and is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. Central, according to the NJCAA’s Friday announcement.
According to the statement, War Memorial Stadium has had many renovations since 1948, just after the end of World War II, and now has a capacity of over 54,000.
Arkansas civic officials were excited about the NJCAA’s decision to play at War Memorial, which also houses numerous concerts, and as a home for the University of Arkansas football program.
"We are excited to be partnering with the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism in welcoming the 2021-2023 NJCAA Football Championships to the iconic War Memorial Stadium in the heart of Little Rock," said Gretchen Hall, Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau President and CEO. "As we begin to bring group business back, being able to host this prestigious national program for three consecutive years and showcase our destination is a huge win for the city."
"The NJCAA cannot think of a better place than Little Rock to host the upcoming football championships for our dedicated fans and student-athletes," stated Dr. Christopher Parker, NJCAA President and CEO. "War Memorial Stadium's iconic facility and atmosphere align with our mission to provide opportunities and the best overall experience possible. We look forward to having our championship in a destination city like Little Rock."
The last time an NJCAA national football championship was decided, it was played at Carnie Smith Stadium in Pittsburg, Kan., on the campus of Pittsburg State University.
Kilgore College men's basketball won the Region XIV Conference championship this season, beating Trinity Valley in the conference's tournament title game in Jacksonville to earn their way into the NJCAA national tourney.
They were seeded 17, and then placed against home-team Hutchinson in the first round of nationals. Hutch won that game. Will the schools meet again, this time for a football national title at stake?
With both unbeaten and ranked 1-2 in the nation right now, they control their own destiny.